“The Emperor’s New Groove” and Its Surprising Connection to a Tokyo DisneySea Attraction

Editor’s Note: This piece was first published on June 9, 2019. 

The Emperor’s New Groove is one of those animated features that might best be termed a “Disney deep cut.” While not without its fans, it’s a lesser known title in the back catalog of Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Released in 2000 after Tarzan had swung away and ended the Disney Renaissance, the movie introduced audiences to an emperor turned talking llama named Kuzco. Voiced by Saturday Night Live alumnus David Spade, Kuzco was prone to ‘90s-appropriate catchphrases like, “Boo-yah!” and, “Boom, baby!”

Outside the occasional MagicBand in Florida, it’s a character and movie that don’t hold much of a visible presence at Disney’s theme parks around the world. If you know what to look for, however, you’ll be able to spot a great big Easter egg for The Emperor’s New Groove at Tokyo DisneySea.

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Sign

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Idol

Raging Spirits at Tokyo DisneySea

One of the two Fastpass attractions in the back port of Lost River Delta at Tokyo DisneySea is Raging Spirits. This short roller coaster ride is themed to a Central American excavation site with “twisted rails and speeding hopper cars.”

It will take you on a 360-degree loop. Along the way, you’ll pass the gaping mouths of stone idols. These idols hang over the ride’s queue and track.

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Entrance

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Line

The ride’s story card is designed to look like tattered old newspaper clippings from El Rio Perdido Heraldo (The Lost River Herald). You can see the front and back of the card below, along with my own vintage-style photo rendering of the ride facade—complete with dog-eared corners.

These images should put you in the mood to go exploring in the jungles of Lost River Delta …

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Story Card

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits (Vintage)

According to the backstory, explorers mistakenly left two idols — the statues of god and fire — facing each other at the site. This angered the gods, which is where the name Raging Spirits comes from.

You’ll also find a few idols out in front of the ride. It’s actually there, on the visual landmark of the ride’s main exterior, that you’ll see a little-known Easter egg for The Emperor’s New Groove.

Emperor’s New Groove - Cuzco’s Palace

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Idol

Communing with Kuzco

The Raging Spirits ride itself is not directly themed to The Emperor’s New Groove. This means no llamas, talking or otherwise, are likely to be in the vicinity. However, it does draw from the same geographical setting, displaying Incan architecture from the mountains of Peru.

Imagineers used the fanning sun-head design of Kuzco’s palace as a model for the idol that tops out the ride facade. This idol, which is visible over the treetops in Lost River Delta, beckons riders from all over the port.

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Treetops

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Coaster Track

Unless you’re a diehard fan of The Emperor’s New Groove, you may have never noticed the connection. Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, if you’re ever able to make it to DisneySea, you can take a minute to commune with the spirit of Kuzco in front of Raging Spirits.

Then you can avail yourself of the attraction’s Single Rider option, getting your 360-degree groove on again and again. While other, less educated riders are giving their generic coaster screams along the track, you can shout, “Boo-yah!” and “Boom, baby!” at the top of your lungs.

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Coaster

Alas, it’s the closest any of us may ever come to riding an official Emperor’s New Groove attraction at Disney. But hey, who knows … maybe someday they’ll wise up and bring a Kuzco (or Kronk) character greeting to Lost River Delta.

We llama-lovers can certainly dream, can’t we? (Boo-yah.)

Tokyo DisneySea - Raging Spirits Poster